How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck)

How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck)

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by Michael Wex
     
 

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There are people out there, millions of them, who act as if they still believe everything that their mothers told them in the first six months of their life: they're the nicest, most beautiful, most promising and intelligent bags of flesh ever to walk the earth, and anybody who can't see it is a jealous fool.

We call these people shmucks. In How

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Overview

There are people out there, millions of them, who act as if they still believe everything that their mothers told them in the first six months of their life: they're the nicest, most beautiful, most promising and intelligent bags of flesh ever to walk the earth, and anybody who can't see it is a jealous fool.

We call these people shmucks. In How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck), bestselling author Michael Wex offers a wise and witty guide to being a good human being, regardless of your religion or beliefs—a blueprint for living a decent and moral life, acting with self-control instead of self-denial, and winning through cooperation rather than competition.

But this is no dull manual about loving thy neighbor. It's a fast-paced and entertaining adventure in the wisdom of the ages, wherever that wisdom may be found: Yiddish proverbs, current events, Talmudic stories, movies, television, and more. Referencing pop culture and Jewish tradition with equal ease, Wex explores the strategies developed by an oppressed people to pursue happiness with their dignity—and sense of humor—intact.

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Editorial Reviews

Mark Oppenheimer
“Just superb….The book is funny, too, and is certainly the finest explanation of the religious significance of The Apartment and Groundhog Day. Talmud, Torah, Jack Lemmon, Bill Murray--need I say more?”
Jewish Book World
“[A]n often humorous and frequently provocative guide to being a good person, a mentsh....This book reflects extensive learning, serious thought, a sense of the absurd and the unfair, as well as an impish willingness to play the mazik (scamp).”
Forward
“The Sneaky Chef of contemporary Jewish culture…Wex writes books that look and read like snacks, but he hides scholarly vegetables between the covers…Wex has achieved on the bookshelf what Hillel advised that we all do in life: In a place where there are no mentshn, try to be a mentsh.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Funny...astute and relevant.”
Sacramento Book Review
“[S]uperb...brilliant...[O]ne of the leading lights in the Yiddish revival, Michael Wex distills the age-old principles that have been the nucleus of Jewish survival...into some relevant lessons, delightful anecdotes, and real-world applications for not just Judaism but all faiths.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061885891
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/08/2009
Edition description:
Larger Print
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Mark Oppenheimer
“Just superb….The book is funny, too, and is certainly the finest explanation of the religious significance of The Apartment and Groundhog Day. Talmud, Torah, Jack Lemmon, Bill Murray—need I say more?”

Meet the Author

Novelist, lecturer, and translator Michael Wex is one of the leading lights in the revival of Yiddish, and author of the New York Times bestseller Born to Kvetch and its follow-up, Just Say Nu.

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How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
GrumpyDoc More than 1 year ago
If you haven't read Michael Wex's "Born to Kvetch," you should; if you have, you know that Wex is a funny and often brilliant writer, whose theme is the values and mores of Ashkenazi (middle-European Jewish) culture as seen through the linguistic filter of the Yiddish language. In this book, he tackles the big subject: ethics. To wit: What are the qualities and behaviors that are lauded as making one a "mentsh" -- meaning, roughly, "real people" -- and not a "shmuck" -- meaning, not so roughly, a prick? It's a subject often trivialized -- be nice, be responsible, et cetera -- and maybe because of that fact, we live in a world with too many shmucks and too few mentshen. At least, Wex (and the entire Ashkenazi culture) thinks that it is important to look tat these issues more closely. As a consequence, Wex spends a lot of time relating Talmudic lore and rabbinical wisdom, which may bore some readers. Still, there's plenty lighter writing here to keep a lot of readers happy.